Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ode to the BLT,
that most glorious of summer sandwiches

Is there a better sandwich in the summer than a BLT? In a word, no. The tomatoes are in season, the lettuce is cool and crisp, and the bacon - well, bacon is good any time.

Ironically, I used to hate BLTs. This is because I mistakenly thought I hated tomatoes (luckily I never harbored any illusions that I hated bacon).

I discovered only several years ago that I do not hate tomatoes; rather, I am simply extremely particular about them. I will ALWAYS ask for any fast food or deli (unless that deli is something on par with Zingerman's) to remove the tomato from whatever I order because I do not trust these places to have fresh, seasonal tomatoes. The reason I though I hated tomatoes is because I do hate out-of-season, pale, sickly-pink, fat-slices tomatoes. (Ugh - I shudder just thinking about these.)

A fresh, ripe, red tomato, however, is delightful. Sometimes I'll eat tomatoes fresh from the garden sliced with just a little balsamic vinegar. And very few things are more tasty than a caprese salad made with fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil ( have you picked up the key word here?)

Which brings us back to the BLT. The bacon may steal the show, but even copious amounts of thick-cut bacon can not hide a sub par, disgusting tomato. For this reason, I only eat BLTs in the summer.

I make BLTs occasionally - or, when my tomato plants are out of control like last summer, often - but mostly when I need a quick dinner, which doesn't satisfy the lunch craving. Luckily, there are several places around New London where you can get a fantastic BLT for lunch.

Muddy Waters has a very basic, traditional BLT. It comes on somewhat thick toasted wheat bread. It has what I would call an average bacon to tomato ratio and very nice, crisp iceberg lettuce. The bacon is not really a stand-out bacon (not particularly thick or juicy, but just as good as your average bacon from the grocery store) and tends to be on the crispy side. I have never had a problem with gross tomatoes at Muddy Waters (and if you really want a great tomato product, wait until it gets a little cooler and get their tomato soup - it's very good!)

Thames River Greenery - part of my favorite group of businesses (Greenery, City News, Thames River Wine & Spirits, and Brie & Bleu) - also has an excellent BLT. The emphasis on the Greenery BLT was most definitely on the bacon - mounds and mounds of it. This is a thick sandwich, and extremely delicious. Plus, when you order a sandwich from the Greenery, you get the bonus of getting to poke through their excellent greeting card selection and all the fun City News magazines and newspapers, which in all honesty could have been part of the appeal for me.

I believe that best BLT in town can be found at the South Side Bistro. I discovered South Side while working downtown and have never ordered a meal there I didn't like. South Side's BLT comes on lightly toasted ciabatta and has some magical mixture of greens (maybe the only instance where I would say non-iceberg lettuce works on a BLT), tomatoes (sometimes yellow ones - no less fresh or delicious) and juicy, juicy, bacon that can not be duplicated )I have tried - it does not work). The South Side BLT also has the virtue of never once having too much mayonnaise (I am very grossed out by mayonnaise and goopiness in general - if I see thick schmears of mayonnaise leaking out of a sandwich, I can't eat it). Plus, on a beautiful summer day you can sit on the deck and look at the river - does it get much better?

I could wax poetic about the BLT for several more paragraphs, but I'm sure you've heard enough by now. Where do you think the best BLT is available? Or do you have another sandwich that does it for you? I'd love to know your thoughts!


arby said...

We went over this, briefly, in chat. Yes. I normally ask servers to pull tomatoes off of burgers, sandwiches, etc. Like Zingerman's, I will trust certain delis. I do think this particular sandwich, (being so simple) has to have the freshest, two ingredients (bacon aside. And...if anyone likes a mayo spread please use Hellemann's. Miracle Whip and yogurt blends lost me decades ago.

As far as the bread, I'm hit and miss. I've grown and aged quite a bit since my first BLT. My palate hasn't changed but my appreciation of food has. I enjoy a simple bread, not a 6-7 grain wheat bread. It distracts from the simple sandwich 'innards'.

BLT- Let me cook the bacon so I can snack. Crisp lettuce and fresh toms from the farmer's market.

Okay...there you go...


Bobby G said...

BLT' are FANTASTIC!!!!!!! One day ill come see you in CT and we'll go to South Side and eat it!!!!